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Team owner Gene Haas gets two years in prison in tax fraud

LOS ANGELES -- A NASCAR team owner was sentenced Monday to
two years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to defrauding
the government of more than $34 million in taxes.

Gene Haas, the 54-year-old owner of Oxnard-based Haas Automation
and NASCAR's Haas CNC Racing, was ordered to begin serving his term
on Jan. 14, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

Haas pleaded guilty in August to a felony conspiracy charge for
orchestrating a plan to list bogus expenses that could be written
off as business costs and save Haas Automation millions in taxes.
The company makes computerized machine tools.

As part of his plea agreement, Haas paid a $5 million fine, plus
more than $70 million in back taxes and interests.

"Mr. Haas has now paid the government more than twice the
amount of taxes he attempted to avoid paying," U.S. Attorney
Thomas P. O'Brien said in a statement.

"This huge monetary penalty, as well as the two-year prison
term, should reassure law-abiding citizens that tax evasion can and
will be rooted out, and that there are significant ramifications
for those who attempt to cheat the government," he said.